“On Your Mark”
The Way Up is Still Down (Chapter 9 Verses 33-37)
That is the very point Jesus now makes (v35), as he sits down and begins to instruct them. If anyone wants. What is it you really want? Aspirations for greatness do not belong in the Church, in the world of business and commerce, yes, in the world of sport yes, but not in the Church. That is the place of service, says Jesus (Mark 10.45). Now if you want to be really great in the Church it is in getting self as far out of the road as you can get it. It is that daily dying (John 12.24; Galatians 2.20), and being prepared to get your hands dirty, your sleeves rolled up, and working, not for self, but for others (1Corinthians 10.24; Ephesians 4.29; Philippians 2.3-4). Now when you measure by these standards some are not half as spiritual as they think, or make themselves out to be. But if we cannot be trusted to look after God’s own family (Ephesians 2.19), then it is surely doubtful that God will give us anyone else to care for. It is in the small things that we prove ourselves, being faithful in them. Do you want to be a servant for God? Well the person who is great in these things shall be the first.
This kind of greatness is, in the eyes of the world, rubbish, trash. Their way is to stand on people to get what they want. There is nothing wrong with the disciples wanting to be first, by all means, we ought to strive to be first, but in spiritual, in kingdom terms. Jesus urges them to attain this greatness, it is possible, all things are, with and through Jesus (Mark 9.23; Philippians 4.13). Jesus provides an illustration (vv36-37), he takes a child into his arms (Matthew 18.2-4), and demonstrates the height to which humankind has to descend in order to enter this kind of service, and kingdom, that he has been talking about. It is a demonstration that would remain indelibly on the minds of his disciples. Now Jesus speaks of an actual living child, and actually caring for all its needs. Our Church children whether we see them embraced within the covenant or not, we surely see them as at least highly privileged, and therefore of great importance. Is it not important that we care for them aright. To train and to teach them to listen to the spoken word, that takes the whole of their childhood. Some Churches segregate their children, taking them out of services for a Sunday School or some other activity. It does them a great dis-service. Are they not God-given, are they not part of the family? They are capable of learning much more than we give them credit for. We have a duty, a covenant responsibility to them. We leave them to be educated by the State system, taught from humanistic principles, contrary to the word of God. Is it any wonder we are losing so many? We guard our pulpits, the Lord’s table, but we allow anyone to teach our children. When will we give them the education that they deserve?
(© James R Hamilton, written September, 1996)